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AGO 1952 No. 266 - March 24, 1952
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Smith Troy | 1941-1952 | Attorney General of Washington

INCOMPATIBILITY OF OFFICE OF MAYOR AND P.U.D. MANAGER.

The manager of a public utility district is eligible to be mayor of the city, even though the district does business with the city in an amount in excess of $50 a month.

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                                                                  March 24, 1952 

Honorable Mitchell Doumit
Prosecuting Attorney
Wahkiakum County
Cathlamet, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 51-53 No. 266

 Dear Sir:

             Receipt is acknowledged of your letter of February 20, 1952, in which you request our opinion as to the eligibility of a person to hold the office of mayor of a fourth class town who is the manager of the public utility district which furnishes street lighting to the city under a contract whereby the city pays in excess of fifty dollars monthly and which purchases water from the city under a wholesale contract by virtue of which the public utility district pays the city an average of one hundred dollars per month.

             It is our conclusion that the manager of a public utility district is eligible to hold the office of mayor of a fourth class city, even though the public utility district has business dealings with the city in excess of fifty dollars per month.

                                                                      ANALYSIS

             The provisions of RCW 35.27.150 (section 2, chapter 57, Laws of 1941; section 9194 Rem. Supp. 1941) prohibits an officer of a city of the fourth class from being directly or indirectly interested in any contract for the furnishing of supplies or materials to such city when the material therefor exceeds fifty dollars per month.  Prior to the 1941 act, this section appeared as Rem. Rev. Stat. section 9194.  The 1941 amendment excluded monthly transactions of fifty dollars or less.

              [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            We believe that the case of Mumma v. Brewster, 174 Wash. 112, 24 P. (2d) 438, settles the question and that under the court's interpretation of section 9194 in that case the manager of a public utility district which has dealings with the city is not "interested" in such transactions within the intent and purpose of the statute.  In theMumma case the mayor of Brewster, a city of the fourth class, was also district manager of a public service corporation which was furnishing electrical power to the city.  In construing Rem. Rev. Stat. section 9194, our supreme court held that as district manager of the public service corporation the mayor was not directly or indirectly interested in the company's dealings with the city.  The court there pointed out that the "interest" contemplated by the statute is afinancial interest and that to come within the statutory prohibition it must appear that the city officer "directly or indirectly profited from the relation between his employer and the town of which he is an officer."

           Applying the reasoning of theMumma case to the situation presented by you, the manager of a public utility district has no financial interest in the transactions between his employer and the city.  His salary as manager of the public utility district is in no way connected with the district's dealings with the city.  In view of the fact that the Mumma case has never been overruled or modified, we are of the opinion that the manager of a public utility district is eligible to hold the office of mayor of a fourth class city even though the public utility district is engaged in business transactions with the city involving expenditures in excess of fifty dollars per month.

 Very truly yours,
SMITH TROY
Attorney General

FRED L. HARLOCKER
Assistant Attorney General

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